Giorgio Chiellini is a man peturbed at the lack of traditional Italian defensive nous he sees being instilled in the young defenders currently coming up through the ranks.
The Juventus stalwart, one of the last remaining bastions of the classical art form, has blamed Pep Guardiola and his myriad copy-cats for systematically diluting the noble defensive creed, with their obsessive insistence on fostering ball-playing backlines above all else.
Discussing the state of Serie A with Fox Sports Italy, Chiellini grumbled:
I think ‘Guardiolanism’ has ruined a generation of defenders. They think so much about setting up, widening (splitting the centre-backs), but they know little about marking an opponent.
The Italian defence tradition is one of the great staples. We must stay away from tiki-taka, it is not in our DNA.
For the Azzurri to return to the top of world football, we will need to create strong strikers, but also true defenders.
It’s nice to know that it’s not just English football that suffers from these repeated identity crises.
We hear Chiellini’s concerns: defenders really aren’t being schooled in man-marking and hard tackling, but that’s because those elements aren’t considered fundamental at the moment. Defending evolves/revolves, just as football evolves/revolves.
It’s not necessarily wrong or right, it’s just different. It’ll all come full circle as soon as a fashionable coach ploughs a successful furrow built on rigorous defending.
Step back far enough from the avante garde and you see the same cycles repeating again and again.
The true scholar knows that nothing is ever truly new in football.